Can a consensus candidate be found to challenge Egypt’s Sisi?

Former presidential candidate and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi is pictured during a protest against restrictions on the press, Cairo, Egypt, May 4, 2016.  (photo by REUTERS/Staff)

Can a consensus candidate be found to challenge Egypt’s Sisi?

Author: Mohamed Saied

CAIRO — Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, has called on political and partisan forces to establish what he called a “united national front” to select a candidate for presidential elections scheduled for May 2018. In a May 5 speech at a gathering to announce the launch of the Karama Movement — the unification of the Karama Party and the Egyptian Popular Current, which he founded — Sabahi said that the front must include national and partisan leaders and serve as a “revolution organizer.”

SummaryPrint Several political and civil forces have launched initiatives to select a consensus candidate to run against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the elections set for May 2018.

TranslatorSami-Joe Abboud

Sabahi severely criticized President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government at the meeting. “The time has come for change and for facing an incompetent and failed authority,” he said. “Sisi’s regime has become a threat to the Egyptian state. It is the worst aspect of the policies that the people revolted against in the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution.”

This is not the first time that Sabahi has advocated for consensus among civil society forces. In March 2016, he issued a statement calling on political forces to come together to create what he called “the alternative,” to advance the principle of pluralism. Only a failed state “produces one party and one man,” he argued.

Sabahi ran in the 2012 presidential elections and won 5 million votes, coming in third behind Mohammed Morsi, the winner, and Ahmed Shafiq. In the 2014 presidential elections, however, he only garnered 3% of the total votes, with Sisi ultimately declared the winner.

Mohammed Bassiouni, general-secretary of the Karama Movement, told Al-Monitor that the idea to form a united national front emerged after six months of deliberations among the Civil Democratic Current — which includes the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Dustour Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Justice Party, and the Bread and Freedom Party — and added that discussion is ongoing with other parties to encourage them to join the front.

Bassiouni said that building a united front is an attempt to counter the current regime’s efforts to “nationalize partisan work and monopolize the political scene.” The front also aims to provide an “alternative to the current policies.” It will not support a candidate in the upcoming…

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